Merill Comeau’s art is an experimentation of sorts. Made of hundreds of snippets of fabric (that include deconstructed clothing, old linens, and plastic net bags), her pieces employ the traditional methods of sewing in new ways, probing the tension between old and new, art and craft.
“Much of the fabric I stitch resist, paint, and print,” she explained the somewhat messy process in an interview with Mass Cultural Council. “Then I cut, combine, layer, cut again, reassemble.” According to Comeau, she’s drawn to the discarded: clothes, vintage linens, and discontinued designer prints. These transmit memories and symbolize lives lived, while also addressing anxiety around the consumer cycle, global manufacturing, and the environment.
Her creative process relies on assembling and then reassembling her materials. “The long process gives me plenty of time to do, edit and re-edit,” she notes. “The work is handled many, many times. I believe the final product embodies a level of human touch which is communicated to the viewer.”
When painting and drawing upon the textile, Comeau often mixes contemporary imagery with old letters or pages from books which harken back to her childhood. As she stitches hundreds of snippets together, each part becomes integral to the whole, akin to the sum of the many moments that make up a lifetime. Embracing installations, wall hangings, paintings, and garments, her work is both personal and communal. “Being dissatisfied motivates me to do more, more, more,” admits Comeau.